Skin care is more than skin deep. All of the good habits we've carefully established to keep our bodies healthy and happy — like a balanced diet, proper digestion and reasonable amounts of exercise — are also important for healthy, beautiful skin. I probably won't hear any argument from you about how important a nutritious diet or well-balanced digestive system is to skin, but exercise for the face? Let me hear it: "Come on, no way!"
But actually, yes, facial exercises are crucial to the health of your skin, and here's why. We know that UV exposure is a major cause of skin aging, and sun protection and lipid replacement (aka moisturizing) are two of the most important things you can do every day to keep skin firm and wrinkle-free. However, there comes a time in everyone's life when they start to notice other alterations to the face that they're just not prepared for: Lines around the eyes, nose and mouth deepen and assume permanency, and skin starts to sag.
Fortunately, many of the changes we assume are inevitable can be reversed with proper exercise. Here are a few facial problems and how you can solve them with a little face yoga:
Expression lines are the grooves on your face caused by your emotions. Every time you smile, frown or pout, the muscles below the surface of your skin are pulled down. Over time, our skin loses the ability to return to smoothness after our face expresses and emotion, and these lines form.
For example, when we frown, our corrugator muscles pull our brows together. If we do it repeatedly, the creases linger even after the frown has gone away. In fact, Corrugator supercilii is Latin for "wrinkler of the eyebrows," so you know this muscle is going to need some work.
Some sagging is certainly the result of gravity, and while we can't prevent natural forces or aging, we can mitigate its visible signs. Aging is inevitable, sagging isn't.
A major cause of sagging is slackened musculature that can be improved with exercise. Bad posture is also a big contributor to sagging. We slump our shoulders and crouch in front of the computer for hours at a time and then wonder why we have accordion necks. Here's where yoga comes to the rescue.
Facial Rejuvenation & Yoga
The practice of yoga that includes exercises and postures targeted specifically for the face and neck is a sensible alternative to cosmetic intervention. Indeed, the concept of reinvigorating mind and body through yoga poses has just as much applicability to the 109 muscles of the face and neck as it does to the rest of your.
As with bodywork, some facial poses can have an intense effect on how we look and feel. Just like other yoga practices, yoga for the face and neck focuses on substituting postures acquired over years of stress with postures that energize our bodies and increase our sense of well-being.
To get you started, try the following exercise made up of three poses. Rather than paralyzing the corrugator muscles with Botox so you can't frown, learn the "Serene Brow" so you don't feel like frowning.
Graphic by MBG Creative